Burning Ashes (Sequel to Willow House)

Cassie Brooks has a heart rendering decision to make, between Ash and Liam. Who will she choose?

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16. Help Me

Ash’s P.O.V-

 

Cassie just stood there. Between us both. I wanted to just grab her and take her away. But, how could I? With him stood a mere meter away. I rubbed at my jaw and sighed.

 

“Please stop crying.” I muttered, not sure what else to say, I didn’t like to see her cry. She smirked and pushed the bright red locks of curled hair back from her wet face. 

 

“Yeah, good advice Ash.” She tried to smile, but the pain and sarcasm flooded her face so she gave up and rubbed away a tear that had just fallen, before looking over at Liam, and then, finally leaving. I sighed again, and hung my head. What was I to do? I’m a mess right now, I want her to chose me, but then... What do I do then? Do I rub it in Liam’s face? Or just enjoy it while it lasts? I know she wont want to stay around me forever, I’m not a nice person to be with par say. I slung my hands in my pockets and began to shuffle away, towards the direction Cassie had gone. I reached the edge of the kitchen and peered around to see what life was happening outside of the room. I heard a familiar slam of the front door being shut, and concluded that Cassie had gone out. Where? I don’t know... Maybe I should follow her. 

 

Give her some time alone. She deserves that. 

 

I smiled slightly and nodded to myself. I looked back to where Liam still stood. What a pathetic little man. I sighed yet again and headed upstairs, only to meet Nat halfway. 

 

“Hey.” She greeted with a slight worry spread in her high voice. 

 

“Hey.” I replied rather coldly. I didn’t mean to be cold to Nat, Nat was nice to Cassie, and any friend of hers was a friend of mine, therefore, I should be more friendly towards her. She looked me up and down with large eyes, a pair that were very inquisitive and innocent. What false modesty. 

 

“You seen Cass anywhere? I think she’s gone missing.” She spoke so casually to me, and about such a subject, as if we were discussing what we had for lunch. 

 

“She went out somewhere.” I replied, a little warmer, but not by much. 

 

“Oh.” I smiled at her reply. “I better go find her...” She said awkwardly as I smiled at her, she seemed tense in the current situation, she wanted to leave. 

“Oh yeah. I wouldn’t worry about her... She’s.... Fine...” I said with a slight stutter, using what she had said. ‘Fine’. Is she really fine? I highly doubt that. I leaned back slightly and hung my head back, as if totally relaxed to look back the way I came. 

 

“I’ll go look with you.” Liam spoke up from the bottom of the stairwell. I felt my eyelids droop in annoyance. Nat smiled slightly down at Liam and nodded anxiously at me. 

 

“Hey, hey, hey. Me too.” I shot in before they left without me. I wasn’t giving him any extra chances to win her over. That would be far too easy a loss. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cassie’s P.O.V-

 

 

I left Willow, not caring about anything anymore. I just needed to get away. The days were getting repetitious, each day consisting of a battle between the two boys. I’d get close to Ash, then to Liam and back to Ash and so on. I was simply, going through the motions. Every fucking day. 

 

“Don’t follow me.” I whispered more to myself than to the benefit of others, and began running. I wasn’t too sure where I was running to... But I had to get away. 

 

I had to. 

 

 

I soon passed many houses I recognized from my school walk, and it hurt much to even pass these. Thinking of every day I’d walked, ran, hand in hand, linked with someone. Either one of them. I hurt them so bad. I don’t deserve either of them. My breathing hardened and knives began stabbing me in the throat as I pressed my tired body onward. I stopped momentarily, and hunched over, my hands resting on my knees for support as my body hauled in breath after breath, desperate for some oxygen. I winced through the pains in my side. Stitch. I looked up and ran one of my shaky hands through my loose hair. My eyes lay witness to the little home that had been burning alive from the inside out. I stood up straight and turned to face the building. It’s cheery face, no more. It was just ashes, a burnt out candle wick in the midst of full candles. I sighed and used my whole hand to remove the single tear prickling at my eye. 

 

“I’m sorry.” I whispered into the evening air. It wasn’t my fault. But they believed mine was. That I was the lone cause to the death of my parents. More tears left my open eyes, and I could barely see through the blur of salty depression as I continued to stare. I closed my eyes. Tight. 

 

“It wasn’t me. I saw you. It wasn’t me...” I murmured, memorizing what appearance used to haunt my sleep. My childhood ruined by he. I opened my eyes and started running again, away from that house. I passed the sweet shop, and a tidal wave of memories hit my battered body, I scrunched up eyes as I ran and shook my head to shake away all happy images of that day. I opened my eyes again and entered the wood. My steps disorientated by my shaky state. I looked to my left and saw some debris of the felled tree I had been to not so long ago. I pushed further, deeper into the wood, ignoring the darkening skies. I don’t want to go back. I want to go home. 

 

I was soon so far into the maze of trees that I could no longer see the way I came. I tried my best to follow some sort of path that seemed to wind through the puzzle I had entered. Using what energy I could muster, I tried to jump over the log that had appeared before me, but with what little I had left, I couldn’t quite make it and my foot caught on the branches. I fell to my knees on the other side of the tree and sat there. I couldn’t get up. Couldn’t try and move further. I retracted my legs and held onto the bruising knees which had hit the damp floor. I pulled them high into my chest, so as my cheek could gently rest against them. I listened to my rasping breaths and tried to stop the spinning. I focused on a red leaf. One that had fallen from the tree that I had tripped over. I watched it, relating it to my vibrant head of hair. I caught one stray lock and admired it. 

 

“What have I done?” I whimpered to myself, my voice breaking as I spoke. I threw my head back and allowed my tears to fall. Too many memories had appeared from today... There’s a link... I held my breath. They were all with Ash... My eyes widened and my hand shot over my mouth. I held it there and breathed as evenly as possible. It’s true. Each of those painful reminders... Reminded me of Ash...

 

 

Ash’s P.O.V-

 

“Where the hell is she?” Liam began ranting over and over, though we had barely left the estate which Willow was a part of. I rolled my eyes at his simple minded way of thinking, and mentally slapped myself. I’d got that habit from her. Her... I sighed loudly and smiled at a scared and lost Nat. 

 

“Don’t worry Natalie, I know where I’m going.” I shoved my hands in my pockets, before bringing a hand out to run through my hair. I did this often when stressed. 

 

“So do I.” Liam stated, his voice was burning at my insides. I wanted to hit him. So badly. 

 

“Let’s split up-”

 

“No way! This ain’t Scooby Doo Natalie, I aren’t giving up a chance on getting to her first.” He cut off the shy girl and came to stare at me. I stared back with bored eyes. I’m tired of you Liam.

 

“Look, you head into town, go past ‘that house’-” I referred to the house that had been burning before when I was walking home with Cassie-“And me and Nat will search the woods. I doubt she’s gone in there at this hour, but it’s a larger space to cover. I’ll need another pair of eyes.”

 

“But-” 

“Just shut the fuck up and do it will yah?” I was getting agitated. Liam’s mouth snapped shut and he nodded, not happy with me commanding him. 

 

“Then lets hurry Ash, it’s getting dark.” I nodded at Nat as she shuffled away from Liam and closer to me. 

 

“You have my number. Call me if you find her. Got it?” I said sternly. I had a feeling I was going to find her first. I had to. Who ever finds her first... May just win her forever. 

 

“Fine.”

 

“Fine.” I grabbed Nat’s wrist, wanting to get away as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

“Are you sure she’s in here? It’s like looking for a needle in a hay stack!” I heard Nat’s voice call over to me, she was running around the trees and bushes, searching for her in every detail. I simple stood there and took in my surroundings. I wouldn’t miss her is she was here. 

 

“Yeah, a bright red needle.” I smiled to myself and sent that smile to Nat, who eased up a little and smiled back. 

 

“You’re right, we’ll find her.” I sent her a thumbs up, before setting my hands back into my pockets. 

 

“Where are you Cassie?” I whispered out into the forest, before notifying Nat that I was ready to move deeper. I’ll find her. I will. 

 

“Ash?” I stopped in my tracks and looked over my shoulder. 

 

“Yeah?” Nat cowardly joined me on my left and smiled up at me. She was a real nice girl... Cassie deserved someone like her. 

 

“We will find her right?” She whimpered slightly. My brows furrowed and a sad smile set upon my lips. 

 

“Of course we will! Don’t give up on Cassie, she always comes through!” I said with false hope, knowing I could be loosing everything I truly cared about. I wasn’t a great liar, and Nat saw through my act with ease. Her face saddened and her lip began to quiver. I put a hand on the back of her head and sent her face into my shoulder. “She’s fine. We’ll find her. I promise you Natalie. I swear it on my life.” Nat nodded against my shoulder and I felt her body begin to shudder slightly as she sobbed. I looked up into the darkening sky. We don’t have very long.

 

 

******

 

 

 

 

I sighed and ran a hand through my hair before taking a seat on a log and letting my heavy head flop into my hands. 

 

“It’s no use. I can’t find her.” I said, my voice losing all enthusiasm. I’m going to loose her.

 

“No!” Nat piped up and stood before me, determination plastered over her tired face. “We still have a few hours before it gets dark, c’mon Ash! We WILL find her!” 

 

“How can you be so enthusiastic? We’ve heard nothing from Liam, we haven’t seen nothing of her. I’m going to loose the only person I ever cared about. I’m going to loose everything.” Nat clenched her fists. 

 

“Are you going to let her go that easily?” She said quietly, her face hidden by her hair as she looked at the ground. I grumbled not wanting to. “Because I wont. She’s my friend... My best friend... She’s MY everything. She’s all I have now. I won’t let her go. I will find her. With, or without you.” She looked up at me as I released my face from my hands, tears dripping delicately down her face. 

 

“I...I can’t find her....” I mumbled, my lips not able to move. All I could see was a life without the one person who stayed by my side. The one who didn’t leave me. 

 

“Are you going to ask her to prom? No... Are you going to take her to prom?” Natalie whispered to me. I joined her, taking to my feet. 

 

“I have to. I must. I... I can’t let her go...” Natalie smiled and wiped away her tears. 

 

“Then we have to find her. Because... She needs you.” I nodded and set off running. Nat following. 

 

 

 

 

Cassie’s P.O.V-

 

 

I looked at my palms, at the bloody mess I was. I was always hurt. My heart, shattered, my hands cut, my body, bruised. I was a living punch bag... And most of it? My own god damn fault.

 

“Help me..” I whimpered, sobbing into the coming night. My legs hurt too much. I couldn’t move... I couldn’t go home. 

 

“Help me!” I cried. I needed help. I needed him to help me. I always relied on him. I’m a monster, and I used every selfish bone in my body, because right now... I needed him to survive. 

 

“Help me, please!” I tried to get to my feet and slipped under my aching legs. 

 

“Please!” I sobbed. My voice sore. 

 

 

Cassie! 

 

I heard his voice in my head. He was haunting me now. Was I going to end up here forever? 

 

“Cassie!” 

 

It’s getting louder. Am I going insane? It wouldn’t surprise me... I’m the perfect example of girl gone mad.

 

“Cassie! Cassie where are you?” The voice... It’s... Real. “Cassie! Please Cassie!” I hit the tree hiding me with my fist. 

 

“HELP ME!” I called with what I had left. I shouted it, knowing my voice was nothing no more, parched dry, my legs aching, burning. My arms limp, hands hurting, palms bleeding. My head spinning. Vision blurring. I felt like I was dying. 

 

That’s twice in one year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ash’s  P.O.V-

 

“Cassie!” I called out, though my voice was beginning to hurt real bad. 

 

“Cassie? Cassie!” Nat’s quieter voice called with me. I stopped running, my breath loud and raspy as I tried to catch what energy I had lost. We we’re really deep in the woods now. 

 

“Cassie! Cassie where are you?” I called out, breathlessly along the crowded pathway, the night starting to set in. “Cassie! Please Cassie!” I heard a tap. Like something like a tree had been hit. I scanned the area and my hopes rose slightly as I noticed a mass of red by a fallen tree. I felt depression hit me as I realized they we’re just leaves. I’m sure I’d heard her calling. Nat fell to her knees, her energy lost. 

 

“It’s no use...” She whispered. Almost inaudible. “We’re running out of time...” She said breathlessly. 

 

“HELP ME!” A silent cry erupted close by. It was desperate, it was painful. It was Cassie. I followed the echo of the sound to the bundle of red leaves and jumped over the fallen tree, using what energy I didn’t have. I fell to my knees when I saw what lay helplessly in the bundle of leaves. My arms encircled the weak girl as her eyes began to close. 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d found her.

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